Piotr Uklanski, Untitled (Dance Floor), 1996

Piotr Uklański, Untitled (Dance Floor), 1996–. Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York, 1996. Courtesy: the artist and MASSIMODECARLO

In 1996, the Polish artist’s minimalist floor sculpture recast Gavin Brown’s NYC gallery as a disco, distilling the elation of dance and the melancholy of its era’s unfulfillable promise.

Untitled (Dance Floor) laid the foundation – quite literally – for Piotr Uklański’s (*1968) career and that of galerist Gavin Brown: “I remember a man walking into the gallery on Broome Street one day. I worked there alone then, behind a wall that divided the space in two – gallery and office. Whenever someone came in, I could hear the street door open, and then I would hear their footsteps, sometimes slow and irregular as they stopped and looked at the exhibition, sometimes direct and deliberate, such as the mailman, as they walked straight back. It was always a guessing game as to who would appear from behind that dividing wall. That day, it was Piotr. He said he was Polish, and had been sent to see me on the recommendation of a mutual friend. He seemed uncomfortable, almost annoyed at being there. I found out later that this was not a characteristic of Poles but of this man. He told me about an idea he had for a sculpture: a disco floor filling the gallery and office like water. I said okay, and a few months later we set about to make that disco floor.”

Eight years earlier, Brown had moved to New York as an artist from Croydon, a town in South London, to attend the Independent Study Program at the Whitney ...


– This text appears in full in Spike #78 – The Night. You can order your copy in our online shop